by Penny Walker and Content Editor, The Telegraph, February 14, 2018
In October last year, we looked at how Glasgow has left deep-fried Mars bars behind to become a gastronomic hot spot. But it's not just Glasgow that's changing things up.
The last few years have seen a shift in the way that the entire nation is enjoying its food. In 2015, Chef Calum Munro opened Scorrybreac in Portree on Skye – and it's no ordinary restaurant. The young chef cooks on his mother’s Aga and serves up exquisite dishes in the comfort of his parents’ home. With just eight tables, the restaurant received rave reviews from Michelin within months.
More recently, Ballintaggart in Highland Perthshire made an impact, serving simple yet delicious food that champions local, artisan producers and Scottish flavours.
Another of the country’s recent successes, The Seafood Shack in Ullapool is a seasonal pop-up with a focus on regional produce. Kirsty Scobie and Fenella Renwick run the venture together and have noticed a real change in the Scottish attitude towards cuisine.
“Passionate about food, we've always enjoyed going out to new places to experience different flavours and get inspiration”, they said. “We've noticed a real buzz about the country. Scotland’s people are becoming much more conscious of where their food is coming from. For us this is hugely important as it keeps the quality of food high and helps support the local produce that Scotland is so fortunate to have.”
Drawing on fresh local produce for inspiration, chefs and restaurateurs across the country have been channeling their energies into developing exciting new ventures. From atmospheric outdoor dining experiences to swanky seafood bars, there’s plenty to be excited about in the future of Scottish cuisine.
The Mad March Hare
Wild Dining with The Mad March Hare is innovative dining at its best. Created by Amanda Farnese Heath, the Wild Dining in Scotland experience was inspired by the country’s endlessly beautiful landscapes.
“When I'm cooking outdoors for our Wild Dinners I try to keep the menu as simple as possible and focus on the taste and flavours. Most of the dishes are cooked over an open fire”, Amanda said. “We take the dining room into the beautiful wide open landscapes of Scotland.”
Dining in the Wild Forest was The Mad March Hare’s first event in October 2017, with a seven-course meal served in the chilly autumnal Scottish forest.
The next Wild Dining event, Wild Dining In The Sand Dunes, happens in April 2018 near Tyninghame Beach and the evening meal will be set out in the open, with the gentle splashing of the waves providing the soundtrack. Monica Wilde, The Mad March Hare’s foraging expert, will accompany diners along the foreshore to pick out the best seaweed. There’s even the option to make a night of it with a glamping-style stay in a safari tent on offer.
The Fishmarket, NewHaven
There’s a distinct air of mystery surrounding the hotly-anticipated opening of The Fishmarket at Newhaven. The little that we know so far is that the venture is headed up by Roy Brett of legendary Ondine acclaim in partnership with Welch Fishmongers.
A leading name in Scotland’s food revolution, Bret was once Rick Stein’s executive chef and his love of seafood is sure to shine through in this new Edinburgh restaurant on the Firth of Forth’s southern shore. The Fishmarket is tipped to open in Spring 2018 and critics expect the launch to reveal a fish and chip restaurant with a twist – including an extensive shellfish menu and an oyster bar.
Dockyard Social, Glasgow
Building on Glasgow’s food revolution, Dockyard Social is a new street-food hub in Finnieston, bringing together the best of the region's food traders plus bars touting specialist craft beers, wines and seasonal cocktails.
Until the doors are opened permanently later this year, the venue is throwing an event every two weeks. Pizza Hawker, Shawarmarama, Smokey Trotters Kitchen and Buffle Wrap – Bubble Waffle – were just a few of the names serving up food in early February. Promoted as “a local start-up for local start-ups”, there are some great social programmes going on behind the scenes.
Kyle Steel, one of the brains behind the Dockyard said: “We want to offer a dynamic addition to the inspiring food scene in Glasgow. A single, vast street food market...a place to come for an exciting and constantly changing array of global comfort food, incredible beers, and seasonal cocktails.”
White Horse Oyster & Seafood Bar, Edinburgh
Once a cosy local pub and the oldest on the Royal Mile, the White Horse is now a swanky oyster and cocktail bar. Headed up by the team behind the successful Chop House Bar and Butchery and with Chef Scott Ralston at the helm, it opened its doors at the end of last year.
The exposed stone walls and leather seats give it a laid back, relaxed vibe and if you’re a foodie with a penchant for seafood, this place has it all. Sourced from local Scottish suppliers, the menu features everything from octopus to monkfish.
If you’re feeling flush, you can splash out £95 on the Full House platter which includes half a lobster, pickled mussels, clams, king crab legs, oysters, scotch bonnet salmon, tuna tartare and dressed crab. It also comes with ponzu dressing, wasabi mayo, pickled ginger, tabasco, shallot vinaigrette, bread, seaweed butter and salt & vinegar fries. So you get plenty of bang for your buck.
Sugar Boat, Helensburgh
Away from the hype of the cities, Sugar Boat is one of the more rural culinary treats to have opened since May 2017. Established by William Smith – co-founder of London's Wild Honey – this neighbourhood bistro has a warm, welcoming feel. It also has a key selling point – its very own on-site wine shop.
Chef Scott Smith is a hugely passionate local from Oban whose knowledge of Scottish produce can’t be faulted. “Simplicity and seasonality is what really defines us", Smith said. “There is such a wealth of produce to be had up here, from raspberries to venison and shellfish. We see an untapped market for our type of cooking and hospitality. There’s nothing new here – there never is really in the world of restaurants. Just reinvention and re-tweaking. But it’s new to the countryside."
Whether you’re after breakfast, lunch, a spot of afternoon tea or a three-course dinner, Sugar Boat is open every day until late. The menu features delights such as the Sugar Boat bouillabaisse and an ecclefechan tart with clotted cream. There’s also 25 Scottish gins for you to sample, cocktail masterclasses for you to try, competitive wine dinners that Smith has labelled “Wine Wars” to enjoy and beer and food pairings to savour.
ARAN, Dunkeld, Perthshire
If you’re an avid watcher of The Great British Bake Off, you’re sure to remember Flora Shedden from the 2015 series. At 19 she was the youngest competitor to ever make it to the show. She’s now made the leap and opened her very own bakery, ARAN (the Gaelic word for bread), in a 200-year-old building in rural Perthshire.
With a menu designed to reflect the seasons, the young baker’s shop is packed with everything from the more traditional breads and cakes to sweets such as Whisky Eccles Cake and savoury treats like her Pea Potato Ricotta Mint Frittata.
“All ingredients will be sourced as locally as possible", says Shedden. "Wholemeal flour will come from Aberfeldy Mill, 15 miles away, eggs from a local farm two miles away, organic veg from community initiative The Field less than a mile away and fruits from Dunkeld Community Orchard just over the bridge.”
ARAN sold out of goods in just four hours of opening in October 2017 and Flora has plans to “offer artisanal baking classes to the public and host seasonal supper clubs and taster evenings as the menu evolves.” So watch this space.
Forming part of the Principal Hotel, Baba opened at the end of 2017 on one of Edinburgh’s premier culinary strips, George Street. This Levantine eatery has links to both the London-based Gorgeous Group and Glaswegian sensation Ox and Finch, setting the bar high in its opening months.
Watched over by the fictitious Mr Baba – an artwork of a lounging hookah smoker – it’s not just the food here that takes its influences from traditional Levantine mezze, but also the drinks. Baristas are on hand to mix cocktails that utilise the region’s famous spices, while a touch of Scotland has not escaped the menu, with haggis replacing the customary lamb in some dishes. While the cuisine isn’t revolutionary, it’s billed as a nice alternative to the more common George Street eateries.
This article was written by Penny Walker and Content Editor from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].